Living in Britain, jobless migrants can claim benefits for children back home

High court judgment to benefit 1.5 million UK workers living outside the UK

24 March 2010:
In a significant ruling, jobless migrants have been allowed to claim benefits in Britain for their children living in their native country.

A Portuguese national, living in Britain, has won the legal battle at the high court for child benefit for his two daughters in his home country.

The development is significant as the EU rules the migrant relied upon benefits 1.5 million UK workers living outside the UK and elsewhere in the EU. The EU rules say the country in which the parents are working should pay child benefit, when the parents go abroad to work and children stay behind.

Jose Lopes Ruas came to the UK from Portugal in 2000 with his wife and youngest daughter. He was refused child benefit in 2006 for his two eldest daughters 18 and 14 at that time.

Ruas was also claiming disability allowance and income support after an accident in a factory in 2004.

The court battle saw three judges did not agree with the contentions of HM Revenue and Customs that Ruas was ineligible for the money. His lawyers argued EU rules allowed any worker from an EU country who was employed or who received “social assistance” to claim child benefits even if the child lived abroad.

The judgment handed down by Lord Justice Carnwath, Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice Etherton at the Court of Appeal referred to the European Commission regulations to say: “Article 74 provides a right to family benefits in the member state in which the claimant is claiming unemployment benefit, regardless of whether the claimant or members of his family are present in that state.”

 “The EU rules expressly prevent workers from claiming child benefit in two places at once. Mr Ruas continues to receive child benefit even though he no longer works, only because he was permanently incapacitated following a serious accident in the UK factory in which he was working.”

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